Penny started dancing at the age of two; donned in adorable little tutus, jumping alongside friends, entertaining the moms and oblivious to what dance even was. Dance continued off and on over the years, complimented and interrupted by gymnastics, basketball and tennis. As she approached her 7th grade year I asked her to pick one activity to truly dedicate herself to so she could build discipline and see growth. She chose dance. She auditioned and was selected to join the Connect team, a program designed for new competitive dancers. She was placed into two routines, one contemporary and one hip hop, with the same group of girls, all competing for the first time. It has been remarkable to see how they’ve grown and what they achieved as a team.
The dance season isn’t over but what a season it’s been so far! This year Lucas competed six group routines and one solo, the biggest commitment he’s had to the team in his now fifth year of competition team. He went from 3 hip hop and 1 contemporary routine last season to 3 hip hop, 3 contemporary and 1 solo this season. He went from being a hip hop dancer to getting recognition in other styles including ballroom and musical theater. Every year we’ve seen his passion, commitment and drive for dance grow but this year was a pivotal year. This was the year his passion for dance grew beyond convenience and the year his friendships grew to become lifelong.
DanceMakers was the first convention of the season, back on stage, without masks. Several of the team had the opportunity to perform in the closing show. Hand selected by the choreographer, they rehearsed between classes and competition and got to experience a slice of professional dance life.
He was always thoughtful and curious. Two qualities I observed early on that were echoed throughout his childhood in the questions he asked, the friends he made, the conversations we had. I remember swimming with him in the ocean, off the coast of Belize, chatting away as if I were talking to a friend, he was all of 9. Six years later we spend hours in the car talking about relationships, the creative process, gratitude, challenges (both his and mine), global politics, race issues and what inspires us. He doesn’t like conflict, doesn’t like to be scolded or reprimanded and therefore will use his humor and charm to calm an upset friend or an angry parent. In the past three years he’s grown tremendously in size, strength and ability. I look at this boy that is taller than me and bigger than me and I see the young man he is becoming. But at times I’ll catch an expression, a fleeting glimpse, and suddenly I see my 9 year old staring back at me and am reminded no matter how tall he grows he will never outsize that thoughtful, gentle heart.
In recent years we’ve experienced a new “museum” from the Color Factory, to Sloomoo, to Happy Go Lucky and now the Museum of Ice Cream, these museums and exhibits offer an experience for the new generation. While each has their own distinct concept and execution each foster “IRL interaction and URL connections.” Hands-on, multi-sensorial, picture-worthy and with minimal reading these have become the new favorite, and norm, for museum experiences for my kids.
I believe the magic and wonder of Christmas is fully realized through the belief and expression of children. So what happens when they stop believing? First it starts with more questions than usual, skepticism in their eyes as they take my answers. We both know it’s over but neither of us say. And the next year they go through the motions, they write the letters and speak of Santa, partly for their younger siblings and partly because who really wants the magic to end?